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UI Stallion Sagebrush Named 2016 Illinois Pacing Stallion of the Year

February 17, 2017 by
The University of Illinois stallion Sagebrush, P, 1:49 ($646,967) was named Illinois Pacing Stallion of the Year during the USTA District 5 meeting held Jan. 21, 2017 at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL.

The regally-bred son of Western Hanover, out of the 100% producing Abercrombie daughter Just Say Go P, 3, 1:54.3 ($93,840) “outpaced” his fellow Illinois stallions in 2016 on the strength of an outstanding crop of 2 year-olds that included Illinois Horse of the Year, Princess Sage P, 2, 1:53.3 ($90,527), as well as other freshmen standouts like Artemesia P, 2, 1:53.2 ($26,585), Razzleme Dazzleme P, 2, 1:54.4 ($55,567), Slzburgerslzburger P, 2, 1:54.2 ($12,681), Spirited Encounter P, 2, 1:54.3 ($27,142), Dee Tumbleweed P, 2, 1:55 ($27,557) and Uptown Sleaze P, 2, 1:55 ($25,739). Sagebrush’s seven 1:55 two-year-old credits in 2016 led all Illinois Stallions by a wide margin.

Sagebrush Filly Earns 2016 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year

February 17, 2017 by Kurt Becker
Keli Bell is a sophomore at Neoga High School who enjoys playing softball for the Indians and, in her spare time, riding horses with her sister, Katie. She also happens to own a harness horse which was recently named tops for all of Illinois.

Princess Sage, a two-year-old pacing filly bred and co-owned by Bell, earned honors as 2016 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year by a vote of members of the United States Trotting Association residing in the Prairie State. The award was made official with a special presentation which took place Jan. 21 in Springfield.

Bell's parents, Barry and Toni Bell of rural Windsor, have raced Standardbreds for many years. But they decided to register Katie Mack, the dam (or "mother") of Princess Sage, in Keli's name when Keli took an interest in the mare after her racing days and broke her to ride. As a result, when Katie Mack's first foal was born, she too would belong to Keli, and the name "Princess Sage" was chosen because of the filly's sire being named "Sagebrush."

The Bell family offered a 50-percent interest in the filly to family friend Freddie Patton Jr. of Mississippi, with the condition that he would train the filly free of charge. Patton accepted, and he guided Princess Sage through a campaign of eight wins in 11 starts, with earnings of $90,000. The highlight of the season came Sept. 10, when the filly won the $100,000 final of the Incredible Tilly series at Hawthorne Racecourse in Stickney.

Princess Sage earned a rest over the final two months of 2016, but she has since returned to training with the Midwest string of the Patton Stable at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Defense of her Horse of the Year title will begin later this spring.

UI Pacing Fillies Complete “Illini Exacta” at Illinois State Fair

August 19, 2016 by Kevin H. Kline
The 2 YO pacing fillies raised and sold by the UI Horse Farm finished 1 -2, and daughters of UI Horse Farm Stallion Sagebrush finished 1-2-3 in the $35,000 Filly Pace Championship of the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes on Wednesday, August 17th. Razzleme Dazzleme moved first-over just before the half-mile pole while brisk fractions of 26.3 and 54.4 were set by her stablemate San Antonio Rose. Razzleme Dazzleme continued to stalk the pace-setter while parked 2-wide; pulling within a half-length of San Antonio Rose at the ¾ pole in a time of 1:24. As Razzleme Dazzleme bore down on her barn mate through the stretch, a fresh Artemesia, who had followed Razzleme Dazzleme’s every move from the half-mile mark, tipped off cover and brushed past the game Razzleme Dazzleme in the shadow of the wire. Artemesia’s win came with a new lifetime mark of 1:53.2. The very brave Razzleme Dazzleme finished a half-length behind the winner and held second by a nose over a rapidly closing Dee Tumbleweed who claimed third ahead of the tiring San Antonio Rose. The win-place-show order of Artemesia, Razzleme Dazzleme and Dee Tumbleweed completed the “Sagebrush Trifecta”, as all 3 fillies on the tote board were daughters of the outstanding UI pacing stallion Sagebrush.

Also of note was the fact that both Artemesia and Razzleme Dazzleme were trained by Rushville, IL Conditioner Nick Prather, who sent out 3 fillies in the Championship race, including San Antonio Rose.

Invitation to Illinois Standardbred Breeders

January 29, 2016 by Kevin Kline, PhD
The University of Illinois Horse Farm invites all Illinois Standardbred Breeders to partner with us in the resurgence of the ICF program.

While the horse racing landscape remains uncertain in the Land of Lincoln, the University of Illinois Horse Farm remains optimistic that the recent events in the industry will mark a resurgence of Illinois horse racing and breeding. The reduction and consolidation of harness racing dates into one major track, Hawthorne, along with increased purses during the spring through fall months could well be a positive development for Illinois racing and breeding, even without an immediate gaming bill. More opportunities for young ICF horses, especially trotters, are very likely – both for stake races and conditioned races that were not typically offered at the now closed Maywood and Balmoral Parks. The projected ICF stakes purses, probably very similar to those offered in 2015 in the absence of a gaming bill, still offer value to the small group of Illinois breeders that produce quality animals for our limited pool of ICF stakes-eligibles. A new gaming law could, of course, breathe new life into the ICF program and transform the breeding industry over night.

The key to being a “big fish in the small pond” of the ICF program is to breed outstanding stakes horses in a limited stakes pool of animals that can then go on to be competitive in conditioned races in Illinois and throughout North America. We invite you to breed one or more of your good mares to one of our proven producing stallions that have displayed the ability to produce “the right kind” over and over.

On the pacing side, for example, our stallion Sagebrush has posted some stunning numbers so far in his limited career. His offspring that are old enough to have raced at least through their 2 and 3 year old seasons number only 42 total foals. From that group, he has sired the likes of NJ'S Big Deal P 4, 1:50.1 M ($306,372); Sleazy Does It P 5, 1:51.3 M ($301,819); Thesleazyprincess P 3, 1:52.2 M ($280,298); Dee Dee Sage P 4, 1:52.0 M ($225,716) and Hostess Lisa P 4, 1:51.0 F ($212,266). Breeders have finally caught on to Sagebrush’s ability to sire top performers from many types of mares, and Sagebrush’s 2016 crop of 2 year olds is represented by a robust 47 foals – by far his biggest crop to date. Watch for them to make a lot of noise in the 2016 ICF stakes. Don’t overlook Duneside Perch either, as “all he has done for us lately” was to sire both of the 2015 winners of the two “glamor division” Super Night Stakes, the Orange and Blue and the Langley Memorial, in Dan D Dune P 2, 1:53.3 M ($120,626) and Dinky Dune P 3, 1:51.4 M ($85,975), respectively. His recent “out East” winners in PA and DE include Unlocked P, 4, 1:49.1F ($359,169); Duneside Chella P, 5, 1:51.4F ($94,172) and Beach Boy Brody P, 4, 1:52.1F ($77,337).

On the trotting side, no one questions that Cassis has the most modern pedigree, and is the fastest trotting stallion ever to stand stud in Illinois. This Hambletonian heat-winning and multiple stakes-winning son of Cantab Hall has a first crop of 38 living foals that will be heard from this summer. Southwind Breeze, although overshadowed by his on-farm neighbor Cassis, has shown the type of siring consistency that most trotting stallions can only dream of. Southwind Breeze has sired winners all over the United States including Little Ms Chrissy, T 4, 1:53.4 ($248,688); Big Bill Breeze T 4, 1:54.1f ($169,986); Divination T 5, 1:54.4f ($127,176); Bailey's Wish T 3, 1:55 ($223,035) and Bobby B Breeze T 4, 1:55.1f ($155,731).

University of Illinois Stallion Duneside Perch has double Super Night scores with Dinky Dune and Dan D Dune

September 13, 2015 by Tomn Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park
Dinky Dune captured the Pete Langley Memorial by a length over Earndawg in 1:51.
Dinky Dune captured the Pete Langley Memorial by a length over Earndawg in 1:51.4.
Sunday, September 13, 2015 – excerpted from “Super Night Championships produce star studded efforts” by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Balmoral Park

Fresh off a win in the Dudley Hanover Stake down in DuQuoin Dinky Dune continued his “dream season” as he rolled to a one-length victory in a career best of 1:51.4 giving driver Pat Curtin and trainer Dane May their first Super Night championships in the $112,000 Pete Langley Memorial for 3 YO colt and gelding pacers.

Working out a second-over trip while Earndawg (Todd Warren) carved out splits of 28.0, 56.1 & 1:24.0 Curtin had the son of Duneside Perch—Dream Hand in perfect striking position as the field turned for home.

“All night I had my mind set on wanting to get into the two-hole with this horse,” said a very excited Curtin. “Then right before we went out there Dane said to me Pat please just give him a trip and try to be second-over with him and that’s what happened. Dane was definitely right on with that one!”

Gradually reeling in a tiring Earndawg, Dinky Dune was well in hand to Curtin as he charged home in 27.2 to record his sixth win 14 starts this season. Earndawg turned in a game effort from the 10-hole to finish second while longshot Mighty Hot Shot (Ridge Warren) was third.

The winner returned $7.80, $4.40 & $3.20 while upping his career earnings to $84,852.

The richest event of the night was saved for last as a field of nine closed out the night in the $187,000 Orange & Blue Stake. Taking advantage of some brisk early fractions, Kay Willis’s Dan D Dune came flying through the stretch to win by a half-length in a career best of 1:53.3 for driver Mike Oosting.

Pacing along third over while Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) faced constant pressure through splits of 26.4, 56.2 & 1:25.1 Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trained son of Duneside Perch—Witch Hanover three deep as the field hit the head of the stretch.

“I was a little concerned with how far back we were but I knew those horses up front were getting roughed up pretty good,” said Oosting. “This horse has always finished up a mile well though and I knew if they faltered at all up there we were going to get there in time.”

Picking up one rival after another the Governor’s Cup winner zoomed right on by with a well measured move from Oosting for his fifth win of his career. Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) was a tough luck second while BS Tyrrific (Kyle Wilfong) was third.

University of Illinois-bred Ryleigh’s Lilly wins Lorna Propes Championship on Super Night at Balmoral Park

September 13, 2015 by Tom Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park
Ryleigh's Lilly Wins Lorna Propes Championship on Super Night
Sunday, September 13, 2015 – excerpted from “Super Night Championships produce star studded efforts” by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Balmoral Park

Ryleigh’s Lilly, the daughter of Western Hero and Fox Valley Chosen defeated a field of 10 older mare pacers in the $95,000 Lorna Propes Championship on Super Night, Saturday, September 12th at Balmoral Park.

As she’s done so often this season John Barnard’s Ryleigh’s Lilly overpowered her rivals in the late going as she went sailing past them in the stretch to win by two-lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Casey Leonard.

Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot the 5-year-old daughter of Western Hero was positioned in mid-pack while the lead changed hands several times through opening splits of 28.0, 55.4 & 1:24.2.

“It looked like there was going to plenty of speed to keep things honest up front and it certainly worked out that way tonight,” Leonard explained. “I didn’t want to go three-wide quite as early as I did but I wasn’t about to let those front horses get away from us.”

Zooming by her rivals in the lane, Ryleigh’s Lilly was on cruise control through the final sixteenth of a mile as she reported home with her 19th career victory. Just By Design (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Rev Me Up (Brian Carpenter) was third. The overwhelming 2-5 favorite returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while hiking her career bankroll up to $173,968.

SUPER NITE WAS A SUPER NIGHT for the UNIVERSITY OF IL HORSE FARM STALLIONS!

December 15, 2014 by
U of I stallions sired the winners of 8 of the 12 Super Nite ICF races, including:

3 by DUNESIDE PERCH
UNLOCKED -Winner of the $146,000 Langley Memorial by 11 1/2 lengths.
SILVER DEVIL -Winner of the Maurello Cons.
DUNESIDE PERTTIE -Winner of the filly Orange & Blue Cons.

2 by SAGEBRUSH
THE SLEAZY PRINCESS -Winner $142,000 Grandma Ann
THE BIG SLEAZY -Winner of the colt Orange & Blue Cons.

2 by SOUTHWIND BREEZE
BIG BILL BREEZE - Winner of the $100,000 Sumac Lad
BAILEY'S WISH - Winner $100,000 Lady Ann Reed

1 by DROPPINTHEHAMMER
AL'S HAMMERED - Winner of the $112,000 Maurello Final, his third Super Nite win.

Plus they sired these runners-up:

DUNESIDE PERCH
DUNE IN RED - Second in the $118,000 Progress
UNCLE SI - Second in the Orange & Blue Cons.
OVERLOADED - Second in Langley Cons.

SOUTHWIND BREEZE
BOBBY B BREEZE - Second in the $100,000 Sumac Lad
LORA LEE BREEZE - Second in the $100,000 Lady Ann Reed

Thanks to all the breeders and owners for making this Super Nite happen. We're looking forward to offering you the first crop by CASSIS 3,1:52.4, the Cantab Hall son that won the fastest elim. of his Hambletonian. See them at next year's yearling sales.

Silver Devil Streaks to Upset in Friday's Cardinal Stake at Maywood

May 31, 2014 by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Maywood Park
John De Long guided the good looking Silver Devil to an upset score in Friday's
John De Long guided the good looking Silver Devil to an upset score in Friday's $34,380 Cardinal Stake at Maywood Park. (Maywood Park Photo)
Melrose Park, IL --- Taking advantage of a mid-race speed duel, driver John De Long slid 24-1 longshot Silver Devil to the outside of horses on the backstretch the final time, then rallied sharply in the lane to post a half-length upset in Friday’s (May 30) $34,380 Cardinal Stake for older state-bred pacers at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:53.3.

Using post position two to perfection, De Long positioned the handsome roan son of Duneside Perch along the pylons while Elkhorn Damien (Todd Warren) and Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) battled through a :27.3 opening quarter. After letting the field settle into position through that opening split, driver Casey Leonard sent 4-5 favorite Fort Silky on his way from fifth as the field headed into the stretch the first time, prompting some strong urging from Warren with Elkhorn Damien. With these two quickly engaged in a speed duel the dominant Fort Silky made a very uncharacteristic break as the field moved to the half-mile mark in :56.1.

Quickly righting the ship with Fort Silky, the top two continued to battle tooth and nail as the field raced by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3. By this point De Long had slipped to the outside with Silver Devil and had the 4-year-old gelding powering up three wide around the top pair as the field moved into the final turn. Sweeping around the tiring leaders as the field turned for home, the Nick Giberson trainee paced home in :28.3 for his first win of the season, holding off a big late move from another longshot, Fancy Creek Elusiv (Ryan Anderson), who made a huge four-wide surge around the last bend. Elkhorn Damien held on for third.

After an impressive 11-win campaign in his first season of action in 2013, Silver Devil, who returned $50.80, $20.40 and $7.40, now boasts career earnings of nearly $105,000 for the ownership group of Amy Giberson, Stephanie Winship, Carl Lacy and Monty Thompson.

Bailey's Wish Takes Violet Stake in Thrilling Fashion

May 26, 2014 by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Balmoral Park
Bailey's Wish (inside) held off the late charge of longshot Rollette to win Sunday's $47,600 Violet Stake for 3-year-old trotting fillies. (David Baum photo)
Crete, IL --- State-bred trotting fillies were the focus of attention on Sunday (May 25) at Balmoral Park, as a field of 10 3-year-olds went toe-to-toe in the $47,600 Violet Stake as part of a big Memorial Day weekend of festivities at the Crete oval.

Proving that she will once again be a force to be reckoned with in this division, James Bafia and Eugene White’s Bailey’s Wish reported home with a hard fought neck decision in a career best 1:57.3 for driver Dave Magee.

After leaving quickly from post five Magee elected to let the hard charging Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) and Say No Mo (John De Long) battle it out through splits of :29, :57.2 and 1:27.1.

After carving out a perfect pocket sitting journey while those two fillies battled tooth and nail, Magee showed his Hall of Fame skills as he slipped to the outside of Macie Rae as the field straightened for the money. Gradually wearing down the pacesetter, the Dirk Simpson trained miss gamely moved to the front with a sixteenth of a mile to go and then held off a late charge from longshot Rollette (Dean Magee) for her sixth lifetime victory. Macie Rae held on for third.

After starting this season with uncharacteristic breaks in two of her first three starts, the daughter of Southwind Breeze-Jen was as smooth as could be on Sunday night as she pushed her lifetime numbers to 6-4-2 in 18 starts with earnings of just over $129,000.

Silver Devil Streaks to Victory at Maywood

November 25, 2013 by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Maywood Park (reposted with permission)
Silver Devil and Casey Leonard were all alone at the finish of Friday's $15,000 Cole Muffler stake at Maywood Park (Maywood Park photo)

Melrose Park, IL --- The late season surge of Amy Giberson, Stephanie Winship, Carl Lacy and Monty Thompson’s Silver Devil continued on Friday (Nov. 22) as the handsome roan gelding completely dismantled five other Illinois conceived and foaled 3-year-old pacing colts in a 6-1/4 length romp while taking the $15,000 Cole Muffler Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:54.

Taking full advantage of a nice inside draw and the defection of his main rival, Mystical Walter, who was a judges scratch, the altered son of Duneside Perch-Armbro Wahine swept from third to first after watching Golden Nugget (Jason Brewer) and Fox Valley Norman (John Roberts) battle through an opening quarter in :27.4.

In command of the proceedings the rest of the way the Nick Giberson trained sophomore rattled off middle splits of :56.4 and 1:25.4 while putting daylight between himself and his competition.

Leaving his rivals in his wake on the final turn, Silver Devil sealed the deal with a :28.1 final quarter to post his 11th win in 26 starts this season. Monopoly Man (John De Long) rallied to be second while Colechester (Sam Widger) finished a distant third.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, the 1-5 favorite of the betting public returned $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10 while upping his record to 11-2-1 in 26 lifetime starts with earnings of $84,614.